IMAGES Journal for Visual Studies

projects: Visual Culture and New Media

New Media Genres and Their Reception

By Katarina Peović Vuković

The new media develop a specific type of literacy which includes knowledge of digital-networked genres and the wider digital-networked paradigm. Since the mid-nineteen nineties new media genres are populating the literary, the visual and the communicational, redefining the traditional media which are undergoing a process of remediation (D. Bolter/R. Grusin) and cultural transcoding (L. Manovich). The digital, but also the networked, are "leaving their mark" on cultural artefacts, social communities, media architecture, etc. Instead of the often used "multimedia" concept which insists on the combination of different media (text, picture, sound), this research wishes to investigate the redefinition of the deeper structure of the media. Two neighbouring and connected processes need to be examined: digitization as a process of general depreciation of materiality and networking as a distributive process in the Network.

Digitally-networked genres (such as the blog, e-mail, social networks, computer games, etc.) have redefined modern literacy, sociability and culture as a whole, but also traditional fields of culture which found themselves in a new context. The emergence of new communicational practices also influenced art, which since the nineteen nineties has been intensely investigating the field of new media, partly also forming it. At the same time, during the transition, the national identity was defined in line with the new media practices, which determine it even when the collective consciousness does not accept this type of digitally-networked transition. In any case, "virtual space" will tell us less about its own nature which we are (in part intuitively) collectively accepting since the nineteen-nineties, and will tell us more about traditional ideologies which the Network and the digital are offering a new context.

Dematerialization and distributivity will serve as basis of the analysis of the new media genres, but also of their reception marked by various ideologizations of a techno-deterministic discourse. The domestic media, but also the professional public, are governed by eschatological discourse of the end, the death of Culture (the book, linear literacy, general literacy, etc.) which is loosing the battle with the popular: the spectacle of the visual (computer games, virtual worlds), non-linear and associative thought (the culture of surfing web pages and flipping channels), non-standard language (SMS vocabulary), superficial sociability (Facebook acquaintances), etc.

On the other hand, techno-optimistic slogans also appear, about knowledge society, and the informatization of culture as transition of the passive into participatory "interactive" media. In both cases, it is about the picture of a techno-future to which we must adapt or we shall be "run over by the wheels of history". Though these are diametrically opposite approaches to the idea of the technological, both spring from a technodeterministic way of understanding Technology. The discourse of the death of the old media and culture, as well as the discourse of the interactivity and participativity are based upon the idea that technology is an autonomous and active factor of social change, independent from culture, economy, political and corporate decisions, user's customs, the impact of earlier media, etc. If we wish to develop a political theory of the new media, which would detect the problems and potentials of the present-day state of technocracy, we need to avoid technodeterministic simplifications.

Research Summaries

Marina Kožul / Mirna Belina
Animation Techniques as a New Medium

Mirela Ramljak Purgar
Digital Photography as a New Medium

Tomislav Medak / Nenad Romić
The Political Right and Tactical Media

Ivica Mitrović
Design and New Media - the Croatian Context

Katarina Peović Vuković
New Media Genres and Their Reception

Klaudio Štefančić
New Media, Old Culture Forms